WorldGBC and GRESB join forces to drive net zero carbon buildings

World Green Building Council, a global network of around 70 Green Building Councils, has announced a collaboration with GRESB, the leading global sustainability benchmark for real estate portfolios, to recognise companies that make a Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.

The Commitment, which recognises businesses committed to ensuring their portfolio of buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030, and advocate for all buildings to be net zero carbon by 2050, is supported by Green Building Councils’ asset level net zero standards in 15 countries and counting, which all adhere to WorldGBC’s global principles for net zero carbon buildings and provide third party assurance of performance. The inclusion of the Commitment by GRESB is hoped to drive uptake of net zero standards across large portfolios in addition to dozens of other Green Building Council rating tools already recognised.

Globally, almost 40 per cent of energy-related greenhouse emissions occur from buildings, with 28 per cent coming from the operations of buildings themselves. The Commitment is unique in positioning energy efficiency as a central component to achieving decarbonisation across building portfolios, in addition to generating and procuring renewable energy to meet reduced energy demand. This represents the most cost-effective, best practice approach to ensuring buildings are fit for purpose and provide healthy and comfortable environments. 

At the beginning of this crucial decade of delivery for collective climate action, this collaboration will serve to create investor certainty through: the framework of the Commitment, the annual benchmarking process of GRESB, the value of asset and portfolio decarbonisation strategies, and the future-proofing for a net zero economy. 

Under the new partnership, the two organisations will:

• explore how the requirements of the Commitment can be addressed through the GRESB Real Estate Assessment

• collaborate on opportunities to share data and knowledge to champion the leadership and ambition being shown by common members

• jointly promote and advocate real estate companies to transition their assets and portfolio towards a decarbonized built environment

• develop a pathway for Green Building Councils’ net zero rating tools and standards to be recognised in the GRESB Real Estate Assessment

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment also recognises where organisations are committed to other environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting protocols, including Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI), Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) and the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. 

Greater alignment between WorldGBC and GRESB in recognising responsible market practices from leading organisations is crucial to drive these best practices throughout the wider industry. Local Green Building Councils that form the WorldGBC network facilitate this market transformation through advocacy work with their members and local governments; and by building industry capacity. 

Cristina Gamboa, CEO, World Green Building Council said: “The Commitment provides a framework for real estate organisations to take action towards net zero carbon portfolios, and new recognition within GRESB Assessments will champion these actions and provide investor confidence in target setting. The next decade is crucial to realise the ambition of the Paris Agreement so now is the time to be seen to act.” 

Roxana Isaiu, Director Real Estate, GRESB said: “We are excited by this opportunity to work hand in hand with the World Green Building Council to provide greater alignment between the GRESB Real Estate Assessment and the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. This will in turn support the collective industry effort to transition to net zero emissions and advance sustainable real estate.”

Sara Neff, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Kilroy Realty, a Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment signatory and GRESB’s 5 year running North American Leader in Sustainability said: “The collaboration between GRESB and WorldGBC will rapidly increase awareness of the importance of climate change commitments, which would both spur adoption of the NZCB Commitment and GBC tools, and accelerate climate action among GRESB respondents.”
 
The full list of the Commitment signatories comprises 48 businesses and organisations including major private sector leaders acknowledging the key role that they must play to tackle the climate crisis. Additionally, governments with 28 cities including London, New York and Tokyo, and six states and regions including California and Scotland have made the Commitment towards net zero carbon buildings by 2050. 

The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment has the power to radically reduce the building sector’s environmental impact by spearheading a global shift towards aggressive energy efficiency as well as a complete change from fossil fuel-based energy to renewables.